The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates or the UAE is a country located in the southeast end of
the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, as well as sharing sea borders with Qatar and Iran.
In 2013, the UAE’s total population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.
Established in December 1971, the country is a federation of seven emirates. The constituent emirates are Abu Dhabi (which serves as the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. Each emirate is governed by absolute monarchs who jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the monarchs is selected as the President of the United Arab Emirates.
Islam is the official religion of the UAE, and Arabic is the official language, although English is widely used.
The UAE’s oil reserves are the fourth-largest in the world, while its natural gas reserves are the world’s seventeenth-largest. The late Sheikh Zayed, ruler of Abu Dhabi and the first President of the UAE, oversaw the development of the Emirates and steered oil revenues into healthcare, education and infrastructure. The UAE’s economy is the most diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, with its most populous city of Dubai emerging into a center for international trade and transport. Nevertheless, the country remains extremely reliant on petroleum and natural gas.
Flora and fauna
The oases grow date palms, acacia and eucalyptus trees. In the desert, the flora is very sparse and consists of grasses and thorn bushes. The indigenous fauna had come close to extinction because of intensive hunting, which has led to a conservation program on Bani Yas Island initiated by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the 1970s, resulting in the survival of, for example, Arabian Oryx and leopards. Coastal fish and mammals consist mainly of mackerel, perch, and tuna, as well as sharks and whales.
The climate of the U.A.E is subtropical-arid with hot summers and warm winters. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 45 °C (113 °F) on the coastal plain. In the Al Hajar Mountains, temperatures are considerably lower, a result of increased elevation. Average minimum temperatures in January and February are between 10 and 14 °C (50 and 57 °F).
During the late summer months, a humid southeastern wind known as Sharqi (i.e. “Easterner”) makes the coastal region especially unpleasant. The average annual rainfall in the coastal area is less than 120 mm (4.7 in), but in some mountainous areas annual rainfall often reaches 350 mm (13.8 in).
The UAE is four hours ahead of UTC (Co-ordinated Universal Time – formerly known as GMT) and there is no daylight saving. Hence, when it is 12.00 midday in Abu Dhabi, it is 3am in New York, 8am in London, 10am in Johannesburg, 1.30pm in New Delhi, and 6pm in Sydney.
Islam is the the official state religion of the UAE.
Arabic is the national language of the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf dialect of Arabic is spoken natively by the Emirati people. English is the primary lingua franca in the UAE. As such, knowledge of the language is a requirement when applying for most local jobs.
The UAE has a modest dress code. The dress code is part of Dubai’s criminal law. Most malls in the UAE have a dress code displayed at entrances. At Dubai’s malls, females should cover their shoulders and knees.
People are also requested to wear modest clothing when entering mosques, such as the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
The traditional food of the Emirates has always been rice, fish, and meat. The people of the United Arab Emirates have adopted most of their foods from other West and South Asian countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India and Oman. Seafood has been the mainstay of the Emirati diet for centuries. Meat and rice are other staple foods; lamb and mutton are the more favored meats, then goat and beef. Popular beverages are coffee and tea, which can be complemented with cardamom, saffron, or mint to give them a distinct flavor.
Alcohol is only allowed to be served in hotel restaurants and bars. All nightclubs are permitted to sell alcohol. Specific supermarkets may sell alcohol, but these products are sold in separate sections. Note that although alcohol may be consumed, it is illegal to be intoxicated in public or drive a motor vehicle with any trace of alcohol in the blood.
The dirham is the currency of the United Arab Emirates. The currency abbreviation for the United Arab Emirates dirham is AED. Unofficial abbreviations include DH or Dhs. The dirham is subdivided into 100 fils.
Since November 1997, the dirham has been pegged to the 1 U.S. dollar equal 3.65 dirhams.